I wasn’t much of a reader in my young adult life. I mean, I would read the occasional textbook, newspaper and the back of a cereal box, but I never considered myself a fiction reader. In January 2013, that all changed. I had gone through a transformation of sorts months earlier and one of the things missing in my life was reading fiction.
Stepping back to December 2012, I began reading Nicholas Sparks novels. Given I had lost many loved ones in the preceding months, his novels actually connected with me lending comfort when I needed it the most. I read A Walk to Remember, The Notebook and Message in a Bottle back to back. Somehow, the strange, inexplicable feeling I got when reading his novels translated to a healed soul.
Jumping right back to January 2013, I made a promise to myself to read every single day. I also promised myself I would read John Grisham’s complete bibliography. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Believe me when I say that reading Grisham is no small task.
The project didn’t start out in chronological order based on publication date, but as time went on it drifted into that pattern. I began with The Firm. I had read the book when it first released and it was my last fiction book before life took over and left me with no time for anything else. From there I burned through Ford County, A Time to Kill, and The Racketeer. At the same time, I was editing my first book in my Ranger Martin series and noticed how everything started coming together quite nicely. My blog was also in its infancy and I drew on Grisham’s stories for inspiration.
Next came The Pelican Brief, Bleachers and The Client. I think this is where my wife and I spent our anniversary on our yearly getaway trip to resort country, an hour north from our town. As surprising as it sounds, we decided the best use of our time would be to relax and read by each other’s side. Amazing what happens when the kids aren’t around for a couple a days. We had fun doing other stuff, too, but when presented with the opportunity for peace and quiet, we were in our element. Who can deny that a good story calms the soul?
By the time summer and early fall rolled around, I had completed the final edit for my book, approved the cover, and sent Advanced Reader Copies (ARC’s) to the reviewers. At the same time, I had read The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, and I had just started reading A Painted House when my book hit the shelves. That whole period was a blur to me. I still don’t know how I was able to contain my excitement.
Here it is, spring again. At the time of writing this Freedom Friday post, my John Grisham literary love affair continues with me having read Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, The Last Juror, The Broker, and The Innocent Man. I have a few books left and then I will have accomplished my goal of reading John Grisham’s entire bibliography.
What’s next for me after rediscovering the joy of reading fiction? I’m seriously considering Ernest Hemingway. I don’t know. His terse writing appeals to me. And it might even influence my writing. We’ll see what the future holds.
What’s on your bookshelf these days?